Travel

Ain’t Nothin’ Like A Brooklyn Girl

A couple weeks ago I spent 5 days with my very dearest friend at her abode in Brooklyn. I say I went to Brooklyn instead of NYC, because I spent only a handful of hours in Manhattan, so the bulk of my trip was spent discovering Bed-Stuy, Williamsburg, Greenpoint, Park Slope and other various neighborhoods.

I’d been thinking about this trip for a long time, mostly because I desperately missed Jess, but also because I was anxious to see if Brooklyn would be a place that I’d like to live. I’ve always wanted to live in New York, but there’s the little issue of timing and opportunity and, oh yeah, dolla-dolla bills, ya’ll. I’m definitely not one of those people that think living in New York is anything like the glittering screen portrayals because A) It’s not. It’s way more complex than that. B) I’d definitely be living in a dark corner in an outer borough because that’s all I could afford C) I’m well-aquanited with the harsh realities of living in a big city. You can even say I’m a little hesitant to move: I mean is all the expense and stress worth it?

This was a chance to get a little taste of what life would be like if I lived in Brooklyn and managed to snag a 5 day vacation.

I got there on a Wednesday afternoon and managed to take the subway from JFK to Jess’s office in Soho with ease. I surprised her while she was sitting in her office with her boss, we squealed, hugged and jumped around like long-lost sorority sisters (I mean, we basically are) and then took a long lunch at this cute little pizza place called Spunto where we ate deliciously greasy slices and gossiped LOUDLY so that everyone in the packed restaurant could hear us. What’s the point of seeing your best girlfriend without annoying passersby with “She slept with WHO?!” and “Oh, he needs to see a therapist like two weeks ago.”

When she went back to her office for the afternoon, I putzed around Soho for a bit, popping into stores that definitely could’t afford. I did go to this place called The Market, which was an indoor marketplace with different vendors. I spent quite a bit of time at a vintage jewelry booth and walked away with an opal ring. I sat down for a snack and to rest my very tired feet around 4 p.m. at this cute little cafe called Once Upon a Tart–yes, they had lots of tarts. I walked a ton in Boston, but I guess my eight months in Austin have really weekend my foot strength because my feet were constantly aching. Damn you non-supportive shoes and cars!

The next day when just went to work I had a “Williamsburg day” where I trolled around the hipster paradise just taking everything in. I got a late start to the day and slept in until 10:30 on a weekday, which is remarkable and amazing and 100 percent worth it. I first ended up walking around in circles just aimlessly. When that got boring, I went into Junk, which is this warehouse of other people’s old crap from photographs to teacups to school awards to buttons. A lot of the dishware was excellent quality and made a future note to myself that if I were to buy dishes, this is where I would look to get some cheap ones. Then I had lunch at this new-ish cafe The Bedford, which was totally adorable. I got a burger and beer combo (note: a lot of drink-food deals are packaged together in one price in NYC–no idea why) and just figured out what I would do with the rest of my day. I hit up a lot of main sights like Earwax Records, Spoonbill and Sugatown Books (it was recently featured in S2, E2 of Girls!), lots of boutiques. Then to kill a couple hours (and to give my feet yet another rest) I caught This is 40 at the Williamsburg Cinema, which was a much needed break and a very funny movie. I ended my day at Mast Brothers, a real, live chocolate factory! I didn’t get to go behind the scenes, but I tasted some samples and bought a bar of Brooklyn Blend for Jess as a “thanks for letting me crash and take up half your bedspace” gift, because I’m a damn good friend.

Junk and Mast Bros.

Junk and Mast Bros.

Friday, I finally got to spend the whole day with Jess, so we crossed the Brooklyn Bridge into Manhattan on foot and it was totally one of those magical “Holy crap I’m in New York and damn look at that skyline!” moments. It was so picturesque and lovely. I took a crapton of pictures, obvs.

brooklyn bridge

See?! Totally magical Brooklyn Bridge experience right here.

In Manhattan, we went to Union Square where they were having a farmers’ market, stopped by Kate Spade where I very nearly bought an adorable purse on sale, went to Beecher’s Cheese Shop, where they make delicious cheese in the middle of city, then we made a random trip to Teddy Roosevelt’s house, which is in Gramercy. I’m all about free tourist sites and things to do. It was beautifully rendered and decorated and we learned a lot: the history nerd in me was way happy. We were getting on the subway to go to Grimaldi’s for some late-lunch deliciousness when we decided to get a quick detour and go see the 9/11 memorial. The fountains were lovely and touching (the museum is still under construction), but it did take quite a while to get free passes, go through all the security checkpoint and finally make it in. I would suggest some planning ahead of time if you want to, but I’m glad we stopped by. When we finally made it to Grimaldi’s, we were STARVING. It was in the middle of the afternoon, so it wasn’t crowded, and I got a sausage and pepperoni pizza, which was pretty good, but the white pie that Jess and her boyfriend Rob got was totally unreal. White pie > tomato sauce. Now a convert.

Grimaldi's Pep and Sausage

Grimaldi’s Pep and Sausage

That night we hit up a few night spots: the Ides at the Wythe Hotel, Barcade and Macri Park.

The Ides is the rooftop bar at the Wythe, which is a very trendy boutique hotel right across from Brooklyn Bowl with a stunning view of the Manhattan skyline. Unfortunately, when we went it was too foggy to see it really well, but it was still cool. The bar was VERY (too?) trendy, the people were kind of snooty and the drinks were very expensive. Still an important experience because I learned a fundamental fact about myself: I am a dive bar girl through and through.

Barcade was fun because there were a ton of people there drinking craft beers and losing very badly at classic arcade games. Okay, that was just me. Still a blast. We ended the night at Macri Park where our little group danced in a circle (MIDDLE SCHOOL!) to some ’90s jams. Fell into bed at 4:30 a.m. and commenced avery peaceful, inebriated sleep.

Saturday (morning? afternoon?) we indulged in the most New York of traditions: an endless mimosa and coffee brunch. We hit up Sotto Voce in Park Slope and drowned our hangovers in a whole lotta procesco-filled concoctions, hot coffee, bread and bacon. Heavenly. Then we walked through Park Slope, alongside Prospect Park and straight to Brooklyn Flea, which in the wintertime is held in the Old Williamsburg Savings Bank. Brooklyn Flea was non-negotiable in my visit to Brooklyn. It had to be done. It’s three floors of people selling random vintage things, glasses, clothes, original art, records, furniture — it was a sight to behold. I picked up a cute little print of Brooklyn townhouses by artist Claudia Pearson. We needed a snacks so we went to the basement level, through an old bank vault (SO COOL) to get to the array of snack like goodies being sold. I got a Japanese peach tea and an espresso-flavored doughnut from Dough.

Brooklyn Flea from the top floor, incredible, right?

Brooklyn Flea from the top floor, incredible, right?

On Sunday, my last day, we did a self-guided tour of Girls season 1, which was mostly in Greenpoint. We saw the street where Hannah and Adam went jogging. Went to the street where Marnie and Hannah’s apartment is, went to Cafe Grumpy where Ray and Hannah work and then ended it in Williamsburg at The Bellweather, where Hannah confronts Elijah about her STD. No, we’re not crazy. Yes, we’re totally obsessed. Don’t hate. After that, we walked back to the subway through Williamsburg where we made a serendipitous pit stop at The Meatball Shop. It was so amazing. Meatballs as a blank canvas for all sort of fun combinations? Genius. We sat at the bar, while the super nice bartender made us a special purple secret ingredient drink and we rapped along to Kanye’s “Through The Wire,” which was blasting through the speakers.

Cafe Grumpy. Hi Hannah!

Cafe Grumpy. Hi Hannah!

greenpoint art

Greenpoint has the BEST street art.

I had so much fun. Yes, I wish the sun came out more and I wish people were a TAD bit nicer, but I had a blast–a great deal of that fun was because my friend was there and it’s impossible to have a bad time when we’re together. I’m now more aware of what it would be like to live there, which is a great asset to me and I can totally see myself doing it. I’m in no big rush, but it’s good to dream.

Oh, and the post title? A clear reference to this awesome Charles Hamilton song.

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